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Published 12th June 2009

Vol 50 No 12


South Africa

This time it will be different

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Trades unionists and Communist activists are pushing their leaders to take on government as the recession bites

Just days after President Jacob Zuma’s 3 June State of the Nation Address on accountability in government and jobs for the people, the trades unions hit back with calls for wage rises and the sacking of the Governor of the Reserve Bank. The leader of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Zwelinzima Vavi, and his counterparts are caught between their new friends in the African National Congress government and the high expectations of union members that this time the relationship with the ANC government will be different. A strong supporter of Zuma over the past five years, Vavi is determined to make the new order work. Union leaders and their members prefer Zuma to his rival and predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, but expect some fierce battles ahead over policy and public sector pay. Many public sector unions are poised to strike in the coming months should negotiations in the current wage round fail. T


The hunt for Tompolo

The government troops who raided the militants' hideout say they discovered secret documents listing the fighters and their political contacts

The rebel commander High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, is on the run from government forces, and the war in the Niger Delta is intensifying (AC Vol 50 No 11). Some of...


Uhuru's accounting crisis

A series of mathematical blunders complicates preparations for the budget and suggests a government cover-up

A political and economic storm battered Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta before his maiden budget speech on 11 June, as the effects of last year’s political crisis feed into falling...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Royal Dutch Shell’s 8 June offer of US$15.5 million to compensate human rights activists and establish a trust fund in the Niger Delta came on the eve of a scheduled New York courtroom battle with a group of Nigerian, American and British activists. They have pursued their case against the oil multinational since 1996, a year after Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others were executed by General Sani Abacha’s military junta. Although Shell strenuously denies any liability and describes the offer as a ...
Royal Dutch Shell’s 8 June offer of US$15.5 million to compensate human rights activists and establish a trust fund in the Niger Delta came on the eve of a scheduled New York courtroom battle with a group of Nigerian, American and British activists. They have pursued their case against the oil multinational since 1996, a year after Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others were executed by General Sani Abacha’s military junta. Although Shell strenuously denies any liability and describes the offer as a ‘humanitarian gesture’, several lawyers hail the case as helping to establish the liability of corporations for human rights abuses in the jurisdictions in which they operate. They point out that Shell failed after several attempts to get the case thrown out of the US courts. Although Shell’s offer settles the legal case brought by the relatives of Ken Saro-Wiwa and others, it will not protect the company from other claims by residents of the Niger Delta. The case presents Shell with some hard choices: Nigeria represents its second biggest global profit centre but has become its riskiest political – and now legal – environment. Six years ago, a group of consultants wrote a confidential report for Shell, warning it that unless it fundamentally changed its operations in Nigeria, it could be forced to stop onshore oil production. There has been no fundamental change in Shell’s activities and the New York case has probably expedited the reduction of its operations in Nigeria.
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Mistaken identity

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Banana skin

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